TORONTO, June 18, 2005
Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar defended
himself against allegations of conflict of interest
yesterday after Premier Dalton McGuinty accused him
of a "lapse of judgment" for visiting a
company he once owned, but had placed in a blind trust.
Takhar admitted to reporters at a hastily called
news conference that it was probably a mistake to
meet for several hours at the Chalmers Group of Companies
in April when, as a member of the legislature, he
isn't supposed to have any links to the business.
But he said he didn't break any rules.
"I believe I followed the rules," Takhar
said. "At the same time, I believe I made an
error in judgment by meeting at that location."
Takhar landed on the hot seat earlier this week when
the Conservatives produced photos of the minister
arriving at the company's head offices in Mississauga
and leaving three hours later.
Takhar repeated his assertion yesterday that he was
there only to discuss how to pay for his daughter's
university tuition fees.
"At no time did we discuss the operation of
the business," he said.
Despite repeated calls for his resignation, Takhar
has refused to step aside, saying he would await a
review of the situation he's requested from Integrity
Commissioner Coulter Osborne. McGuinty has stood by
"Whatever the integrity commissioner decides,
I will follow," Takhar said.
Earlier, McGuinty came to Takhar's defence, calling
his misstep a "lapse of judgment" but refusing
to ask for his resignation.
"I commend him for referring the matter to the
integrity commissioner for his advice and response
to that," McGuinty said.
"I don't believe a rule has been broken, but
again I'll leave that to the integrity commissioner."
Takhar admitted he has previously visited the office
"three or four times" -- but only to pick
up his wife for family gatherings or social functions.
She works there, serving as president and chief executive
of Chalmers Group.